How to set up IMAP in Windows

Microsoft's e-mail service finally supports IMAP. Here's how to add your account to Thunderbird or another desktop mail client.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET is a pretty good Web mail service, but ever since it debuted earlier this year, users have been clamoring for one feature: IMAP.

That's because, unlike the POP protocol, IMAP syncs with third-party mail clients. Translation: When you access your inbox on, say, your desktop e-mail client, any messages you read, send, reply to, or delete get synced back to your account. It's a much more practical way to deal with e-mail.

To get things set up in Windows, you'll need to add your account to your preferred mail client. I'm going to walk you through the setup for Mozilla's Thunderbird, but the process should be roughly the same for any desktop e-mail program.

Step 1: Start Thunderbird, then click File > New Message > Existing Mail Account.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 2: Complete the Name, E-mail Address, and Password fields, then click Continue.

Step 3: Because the default account comes up with POP settings, click Manual Config to input the necessary IMAP settings.

Step 4: Click the Incoming pull-down and choose IMAP. Then modify the Incoming and Outgoing fields as follows:

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 5: Click Done, then wait for Thunderbird to verify all the settings. You should be good to go!

Just in case you need the specific server settings to use with another mail client, they're as follows:

Incoming IMAP

  • Server:
  • Server port: 993
  • Encryption: SSL

Outgoing SMTP

  • Server:
  • Server port: 587
  • Encryption: TLS

By the way, if you're a Mac Mail user, be sure to check out Ed Rhee's tutorial on getting IMAP set up with that program.